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The very first Afropunk tour hit Toronto last Friday with a lineup of impressive performances from the likes of Saidah Baba Talibah, American Fangs and the legendary poet and rebel, headliner Saul Williams.
Matthew Morgan, Resident Producer of the Afropunk 2009 tour, Producer of Afropunk the documentary, and co-spearhead of the whole Afropunk movement along with James Spooner was in attendance as well. “If I could meet one or two kids that didn’t know we existed,” said Morgan on the goal of the tour, “that either went on to create a profile or just find a band that they like on Afropunk and become a part of the community then I’ll be happy.”
Saul Williams said it himself in an interview with The Couch Sessions a while back, performance is his forte, and he couldn’t be more right. For a man whose music is not readily digestible for most of mainstream culture, his performance skills meld his profound and harshly beautiful lyrics, with the catchy, synthesized and guitar heavy music they are set to, creating a show that nobody, fan or not, could stand still through. Together on stage William’s band looked like the most random assortment of characters, the guitarist dressed in a classic 70’s prom suit, Keyboardist dressed as Dracula, the DJ channeling Afrika Bambaataa, and finally Williams with feathers in his hair and elaborate purple sparkling face paint.
Despite the complete lack of visual cohesiveness, the music was hypnotic as they played many of the tracks from Williams’s 2007 album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! The Hit track List of Demands (Reparations) (remember the Nike commercial?) was recognized by the crowd, and everyone pumped their fists in unison to NiggyTardust. A highlight was a dope and twisted cover of Bjork’s Declare Independence that eventually progressed into a slowed down, bass bumping outro. One of Toronto’s best known MC’s K-os also made an appearance, jumping on stage and freestyling for a minute over the band.
Chillin’ backstage afterwards in silence on a couch, Williams seemed like the complete opposite persona of the man who had been climbing above the crowd on huge speakers only seconds before. Both introverted thinker and enigmatic performer, each side of Williams is equally impressive. Make sure you check out the tour when it comes to a city near you, your chance to see a living legend and some totally impressive Afropunk.